United States threatens sanctions after trade body rules against Airbus

It is the latest in a string of tussles between Europe’s Airbus and US rival Boeing

(Boeing) Tuesday called as "a landmark decision" a ruling by the World Trade Organization (WTO) determining that the European Union (EU) has provided billions of US dollars in subsidies to European aircraft maker Airbus.

European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem insisted that the ruling also rejected "the vast majority" of United States claims against it, while saying in a statement that the bloc "will now take swift action to ensure it is fully in line with the WTO's final decision in this case".

The appellate body maintained a ruling by the WTO's compliance panel that European Union "launch aid" provided to Airbus resulted in lost sales for Boeing in the twin-aisle and very-large aircraft markets.

"Today's final ruling sends a clear message: Disregard for the rules and illegal subsidies is not tolerated", said Boeing Chairman and CEO Dennis Muilenburg.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said in a statement the United States would slap countermeasures on European goods unless the EU fell into line.

It is also part of a two-way battle between the European Union and the United States over aircraft subsidies that could spark tit-for-tat reprisals between the two trade superpowers.

The next stage of the 14-year battle will be over the size of the tariffs the USA will be allowed to impose to compensate for lost exports.

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But U.S. sources say the A380 aid meant Airbus was able to gamble on building the world's largest jetliner without facing the financial consequences of market failure, bolstering its balance sheet in a way that disadvantages Boeing to this day.

Bob Novick, a legal counsel for Boeing, told reporters that the subsidies led to lost sales and that the United States will be free to decide over the next several months what European products will be targeted for tariffs to apply maximum pressure to ensure compliance.

The shares of Airbus had fallen shortly after the WTO issued its findings and were poised to close down around 0.86 percent. Boeing fell less than 1 percent to $342.10 at 11:43 a.m.in NY.

To Airbus' point, one finding against the US now remains before the WTO, which concerns a Washington state tax measure.

For its part, Airbus emphasized that the "WTO has now dismissed in their entirety 94% of Boeing's original claims" and focused on the "much more interesting part - on Boeing's more egregious and competition-damaging subsidies", which the WTO has not yet finished ruling on.

A World Trade Organization (WTO) ruling on Tuesday is opening the door for the United States to impose tariffs on European products, in what is likely the end of the 14-year-old trade battle.

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